Ask an expert: Barlow & Barlow
Your interiors are known for their bold and eclectic designs along with your use of vintage and antiques, how did you find this signature style?
I think everyone’s style evolves over time. As you learn more about particular styles and periods, and you gain knowledge and interest, your style keeps adapting. That being said, we always put our client’s needs and wants first so we try not to have a one size fits all look!
What comes first in your design process?
Getting a deep-rooted understanding of how the client lives, what they want from their house and what makes them smile is always the first stage of any project.
Congratulations on Kin House, it is such a beautiful space, what’s your favourite part of the project?
I really enjoyed designing the bedrooms – I guess because as a hotel lover myself it’s so fun to put into practice the little details that would make me happy to stay in those rooms.
Your love of print is evident in the design, what advice would you give to those who would like to incorporate more patterns into their home but are worried about creating an overly chintzy aesthetic?
I would always suggest starting off slowly and then as you get more and more confident, keep adding – you soon learn that matchy-matchy isn’t the way forward and actually the surprising combinations are always the most enjoyable!
What are your thoughts on the grand millennial trend? and how do you develop a grand millennial style?
I think it’s fun when done in a sprinkling rather than a full-on tidal wave of frills. For me, you don’t want to go so heavy on a ‘look’ that it looks like a film set. Once the look becomes affected I lose interest; natural and well-balanced spaces always look the best.
What are your three top tips on choosing vintage pieces for a space?
Just buy what you love. There are no right and wrong answers. Some people love pine, some people hate it! If the item makes you happy when you look at it, I think that’s all that matters. When it comes to ‘antiques’ you may need to have more of a discerning eye as the prices can be more prohibitive, however with vintage I think you can have more confidence in your choices.
You seamlessly mix new joinery with antiques – do you have a design philosophy or approach to make this work? What would you say to those who are worried about mixing different woods and finishes?
Again, I think mixing in different finishes makes spaces look more natural. If you go too heavy on one material you can look like a showroom….having a well-balanced aesthetic with all sorts of different materials and textures is what gives a space soul and integrity.
What is your favourite vintage purchase?
We have an amazing 1970’s bamboo chest of drawers at home that I just love – there’s something so joyful about 70’s furniture!
Where do you both go for inspiration?
If we’re talking about crossing the seas, I would always say Italy. The Italians just do it best. However, slightly closer to home I would say you cannot beat the V&A for a wealth of amazing and beautiful things.
Any favourite interior design projects in London?
To be honest I couldn’t decide as we have so many lovely projects. But I do love a big white stucco-fronted Notting Hill house!
What is currently on your vintage shopping list?
It’ll never happen but I would sell a kidney for a Giacometti sculpture!
Favourite vintage furniture designer or brand?
Anything by Jean Michel Frank!